Cameron Island
Cameron Island is one of the Canadian arctic islands in Nunavut
Nunavut is the largest and newest federal territory of Canada; it was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries had been established in 1993...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. Located in the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

, close to Bathurst Island
Bathurst Island
A member of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Bathurst Island is one of the Queen Elizabeth Islands in Nunavut Territory, Canada. The area of the island is estimated at , making it the 54th largest island in the world and Canada's 13th largest island. It is uninhabited.The island is low-lying with...

, it has an area of 1059 km² (408.9 sq mi). Île Vanier
Île Vanier
Île Vanier is one of the Canadian arctic islands in Nunavut, Canada. Located at 76°10'N 103°15'W, it has an area of . To the north, across the Arnott Strait, is Cameron Island, and to the south, across the Pearse Strait, is Massey Island....

 lies immediately to the south, across the Arnott Strait
Arnott Strait
Arnott Strait is a waterway in the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, Canada. It separates Cameron Island from Île Vanier . To the west, the strait opens into the Byam Martin Channel....


Commercial oil production

Cameron Island is notable as being the only site which has been developed for commercial oil production in the Canadian Arctic islands. From 1985 to 1996 the double-hulled tanker M.V.Arctic shipped the light crude from Bent Horn in the south-west of the island to Montreal. A total of 2.8 Moilbbl was produced until the field was abandoned in 1996. The initial discovery, in 1974 by Panarctic Oils Ltd, reflected the urgency to find new sources of crude oil after the oil crisis in 1973. The abandonment in 1996 reflects the difficulties of exploiting the resource in this harsh environment, although the current production license (held by Canada Southern Petroleum Ltd) expires in 2010 and could be extended. After abandonment, final clean-up occurred in 1999.

Cameron Island is a desolate spot: a dark-hued landscape of low hills. Oil exploration and traffic on land were concentrated in the winter months, when "winter roads" of compacted snow across the tundra were used by heavy vehicles. Appropriate efforts were taken to minimise the damage to this fragile environment, but where the vegetation was damaged, increased depths of summer thaw occurred. Possibly the greatest concern was caused by the sumps at the well-sites, into which the toxic drilling muds were pumped. These basins, blasted out of the permafrost, relied on the gradual freeze-back of the ground to seal in the waste materials.
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